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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 01:14 PM
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 01:21 PM
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"Sir, I swear I did not drive the car into the ____. Yes , I was at the wheel. "
$80M - hit a tree and get rich !
================================================== ==
Technology Puts Unintended Acceleration Back in Spotlight

By Jayne O'Donnell and David Kiley, USA TODAY

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Carol Mathews, 60, has been driving since she was 12 years old on a South Dakota farm. So when her 2002 Lexus ES 300 ran into a tree as she pulled into a restaurant parking space last fall, she was pretty sure she wasn't the problem. She says it was the third time the car lurched forward without her help.

Marlene Fett, 70, swears she hadn't touched the gas pedal when her 1988 Lincoln Town Car plowed into a carousel outside an Arkansas Wal-Mart in 1995. The crash killed 6-month-old Nathaniel Chapman and seriously injured his then-2-year-old brother, Jonathan.

Was it the car or the driver?

The question lingers 15 years after federal auto safety officials said so-called unintended or sudden acceleration was caused when drivers stepped on the gas instead of the brake. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 1989 report was in response to well-publicized complaints that models sold by Audi and other automakers would take off on their own from a standstill, travel several feet and usually crash.

But lack of ironclad proof that the cause of unintended acceleration lies either with a car defect or driver error has made the issue a recurring nightmare for automakers and regulators. Each new spate of incidents can cause renewed jitters among drivers.

Now, NHTSA has opened an investigation into whether a new technology is making unintended acceleration more frequent — or just giving errant drivers and plaintiffs' lawyers something new to blame for crashes.

The technology, electronic throttle control, uses sensors to tell a car's computer how much to open the throttle, which lets in air, and how much fuel to inject into the engine to control speed. Automakers like the technology, which replaces a mechanical cable, for reliability and cost savings, and because its helps fuel economy and improves performance. But it works with other new and often bug-ridden electronics that plaintiffs' lawyers say are leading to unintended acceleration.

Specifically, NHTSA is investigating the electronic throttle control system in more than 1 million 2002-03 Toyota Camrys, Solaras and Lexus ES 300s. It has narrowed the probe to 11 complaints of engine surge, five that involved crashes. More than two dozen other complaints were dropped from the investigation.

But the Toyota case is only one of several recent unintended acceleration developments. Others:

• At least 16 drivers have told NHTSA that their 1998-99 Audi A6 sedans pick up speed without help while already moving, mostly in subzero temperatures in Northeastern states. Drivers said the only way to stop the car was to turn the ignition off. The agency is investigating.

• Subaru recalled 128,000 vehicles because of a possible defect in the cruise control system that could leave throttles sticking wide open. The throttle stayed open rather than returning to idle when the driver removed his foot, NHTSA says.

• For more than a decade, decisions usually favored car companies and blamed drivers in unintended acceleration cases, but some recent trials and court decisions reversed that. Ford Motor and General Motors each recently lost a high-profile case.

Complaints about unintended acceleration have mostly come in three phases. After the surge of complaints in the 1980s, automakers added mechanisms known as shift-locks, which force drivers to press the brake pedal if they want to shift into drive or reverse. That cut the number of unintended acceleration complaints considerably in the 1990s.

Now, many expect electronic throttle control will be the new lawsuit target.

Incident followed concerns

Carol Mathews is no mechanic, but she says she knows her car and her driving. And she's all but certain her car was operating on its own when it hit the tree last fall in the parking lot in Rockville, a Washington suburb. The incident followed several months of concerns about jerkiness, deceleration and acceleration without her help while driving at highway speeds. After seeing dozens of related complaints about Lexus and Toyota models on NHTSA's Web site, she petitioned NHTSA to open a probe, which it did last month.

Mathews, a nurse and school health official, bought her Lexus about a year before her crash and after putting 155,000 miles on a 1989 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo. She dismisses the longtime argument by regulators and automakers that it might have been hard to adjust to a new vehicle with new pedals that are positioned differently. Older-model American cars often have larger brake pedals than Japanese models, and the gas pedal might be where the brake was in a drivers' previous car. In Mathews' cars, the pedals are only slightly different in size and position.

Toyota spokesman Mike Michels says the automaker takes the complaints seriously but believes it's significant that NHTSA has already reduced the number it is investigating to 11. "That's a pretty small number, and we do not think that there is any event that could take place that couldn't be overcome by applying the brake," says Michels.

Electronic throttle control units show trouble codes on the car's computer and illuminate the check-engine light on the dash if there are malfunctions. Michels says Toyota technicians found no trouble codes with Mathews' car. None of the other complaints mentions a check-engine light.

Fett and her lawyer blame cruise control for her 1995 crash. "The car just took off," she says.

The deadly collision sent her to the hospital, where she says she had a heart attack and a bleeding ulcer that burst. Her husband, William, says that for six months, Fett couldn't look at a child without crying and couldn't bear to drive by Wal-Mart.

A Chapman family lawsuit against Ford is scheduled to be heard in November. The family settled its lawsuit with the Fetts, who now also are suing Ford.

In a lengthy 1999 report denying McMath's petition, NHTSA investigator Bob Young wrote that even if such an occurrence took place and didn't leave evidence of a mechanical malfunction, the situation should be reproducible through in-vehicle and laboratory tests. None of NHTSA's testing could do so.

McMath says he has an expert who can replicate it, "But it is not a road show you can put on and bring around the country."

Despite NHTSA's rulings, automakers have suffered recent losses in cruise control cases:

• A Missouri jury last year ordered GM to pay Constance Peters and her husband $80 million for the crash of her 1993 Oldsmobile Cutlass, which accelerated 120 feet in reverse and into a tree while she was backing up. They blamed faulty cruise control. GM is appealing.

• The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in 2002 reinstated a $1.1 million judgment against Ford in the crash of a 1991 Ford Aerostar. Jurors had found that the crash was caused partly by a "negligently designed" cruise control system.

Age as an issue?

In its 1989 report, NHTSA noted that drivers over 60 were as much as six times as likely as younger drivers to be involved in an unintended acceleration incident, suggesting that deteriorating reflexes are a contributing factor.

But the older-driver theory raises the ire of McMath and Tom Murray of Sandusky, Ohio, another Chapman attorney. McMath calls it "the hobgoblin of geezer negligence." Murray says, "These cases go back to the 1980s and involve Audi 5000s, Ford Thunderbirds, Mercury Cougars and Grand Marquis, Ford Aerostar vans, as well as Town Cars, and the complaints and incidents cover a broad demographic waterfront."

Audi, which has been linked for many years to real or imagined unintended acceleration, perhaps has the most to fear from a fresh look at the issue. In the mid-1980s, the German automaker, owned by Volkswagen, was investigated for hundreds of complaints of unintended acceleration in its 5000 sedan. The resulting bad publicity caused Audi sales to drop 60% in three years, even though NHTSA never found a flaw in Audi's design and blamed driver error.
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 01:32 PM
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"Berghold has not been charged."

No one wants to be mean to a white grandma , a dying one to boot.
What if "she" was a black guy who is dying from drug addiction ?

Keep lookin'...
When my son was in a hit and run and ended in a coma the driver was described as a black male to the police and the media but neither one of them took the information seriously; as matter of fact Channel 11 (Baltimore) told me on the phone that "it was not news worthy". All I wanted was for the news to go out on that day so some eyewitnesses come forward because it happened in rush hour in the presence of many cars. They stopped to look but no one came to help, hell some people wanted to run my wife over because she was in their way tending to a kid on the ground.
Don't fkin get me started with your racial shit, because idiots and criminals are of equal opportunity descent.

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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 01:48 PM
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When my son was in a hit and run and ended in a coma the driver was described as a black male to the police and the media but neither one of them took the information seriously; as matter of fact Channel 11 (Baltimore) told me on the phone that "it was not news worthy". All I wanted was for the news to go out on that day so some eyewitnesses come forward because it happened in rush hour in the presence of many cars. They stopped to look but no one came to help, hell some people wanted to run my wife over because she was in their way tending to a kid on the ground.
Don't fkin get me started with your racial shit, because idiots and criminals are of equal opportunity descent.
Good God Drew, when did that happen? and is your son okay? I certainly hope so!

did I miss this account? or have you not spoke of it?
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 01:56 PM
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Good God Drew, when did that happen? and is your son okay? I certainly hope so!

did I miss this account? or have you not spoke of it?
It happened in 2003. My kid got operated on by Dr. Ben Carson himslef, da man and we owe him millions of gratitudes He had a head trauma but pulled through and shit man he still has an IQ of over 140; all of his summer camps are paid for by Johns Hopkins University and he's on his way for a scholarship if he keeps up with what he's doing in school. He's 11 now and I am happy to have him... Alive!

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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 02:05 PM
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Thank you for sharing. good to know he's doing fine. I do hope he gets a good scholarship.


P.S. don't send him to one of those liberal colleges
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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 02:16 PM
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Thank you for sharing. good to know he's doing fine. I do hope he gets a good scholarship.


P.S. don't send him to one of those liberal colleges

LOL, I am not worried about him, he's the engineering type, maybe medical doctor; his older brother on the other hand is into arts and hates math and other hard sciences but does well in them to pass.

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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 04:54 PM
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When my son was in a hit and run and ended in a coma the driver was described as a black male to the police and the media but neither one of them took the information seriously; as matter of fact Channel 11 (Baltimore) told me on the phone that "it was not news worthy". All I wanted was for the news to go out on that day so some eyewitnesses come forward because it happened in rush hour in the presence of many cars. They stopped to look but no one came to help, hell some people wanted to run my wife over because she was in their way tending to a kid on the ground.
Don't fkin get me started with your racial shit, because idiots and criminals are of equal opportunity descent.

heh, heh....aah! That explains a lot! heh, heh......
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post #19 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by drewprof View Post
When my son was in a hit and run and ended in a coma the driver was described as a black male to the police and the media but neither one of them took the information seriously; as matter of fact Channel 11 (Baltimore) told me on the phone that "it was not news worthy". All I wanted was for the news to go out on that day so some eyewitnesses come forward because it happened in rush hour in the presence of many cars. They stopped to look but no one came to help, hell some people wanted to run my wife over because she was in their way tending to a kid on the ground.
Don't fkin get me started with your racial shit, because idiots and criminals are of equal opportunity descent.
Sorry to hear about the accident. I agree about the ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
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post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, who visited the scene yesterday, said authorities were looking into whether the gray 1991 Oldsmobile Delta 88 had mechanical problems or if driver error was to blame.

State troopers drove the car through the hospital's parking lot yesterday evening, apparently checking its brakes and accelerator.
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